Lady in the Water is M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie. I've only been waiting for this one for the past two years or so. So I had very high expectations. Plus, I actually watched this on the very first night it was released, on a Friday.
And it didn't disappoint. This was good.
In fact, I was totally engrossed in this one. The characters were real. Heck, I felt like I was in the movie, just like one of the apartment dwellers residing in Cleveland Heep's residential complex.
It reminded me of when I was a kid, when I would make up lots of stories to tell my brother. I'd have different characters, each with his or her nuances. Sometimes the stories would make sense, oftentimes they were too ambitious causing the plot to crumble (like the time I created a 'princess' in an earlier part, then totally forgot about her in the end, which prompted my brother to laugh and ask "what about the princess?"). Lady in the Water resembles a lot of my childhood imagination, stories where anything goes.
It is also a movie about my friends and acquaintances. It was like M. Night made a movie that described some of my dreams where friends and people from all places would get together in one fable. I would love to watch this film with them. Though I'm not sure if they will relate to this as much as I do.
Like Shyamalan's past films, he leads you into thinking one way, then swerves in another direction. For instance, Signs isn't really about aliens, Unbreakable isn't about invulnerability, and The Village isn't about monsters. This movie is advertised as a fairy tale. And while it does have some fairy tale parts, I believe it's really about something else.
I'm predicting that a lot of people will hate this movie. It's the type that will disappoint those looking for quick thrills or amusing diversions. You won't get that here. In fact, while I was watching in the moviehouse, I noticed a couple walk out in the middle of the film. And after it ended, I overheard one teenager proclaim "This is the worst movie I've ever seen!" M. Night's critics will bemoan the fact that he gave himself another significant acting role in his own movie. Plus, it doesn't follow the usual formula we've all been accustomed to watching. I just hope people don't hate this too much.
Some parts that I felt could be improved: I thought some of the more important details had to be emphasized and explained as the storytelling can get fast and confusing. It is easy to lose track of the characters. I also found the cookbook writer's sister to be irritating at times, and didn't contribute much to the story. The character of 'Story' could also use some work as she oftentimes slowed down the pacing of the film, breaking the momentum.
What I loved about Lady in the Water is how it creates special meaning out of commonplace people and things. How each seemingly insignificant group of characters find themselves having special significance. And how it is told with such realism, that things even fall apart, then come back together.
Rating: 5/5 * * * * *
(Minor spoilers in the comments section, where I discuss some plot details and special meanings in the movie. -rob)